Third-year West Virginia University College of Law student Meghan Starnes has embarked on her latest adventure for personal, academic and professional growth. This spring, she is working at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands.
The ICTY is a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Established in 1993, the ICTY has changed the landscape of international humanitarian law and established precedent for conflict resolution and post-conflict justice.
Starnes will be working for the ICTY Appeals Division of the Office of the Prosecutor, gaining valuable experience in international law.
“I’ll be handling the technicalities and legalities of some of the cases that have already gone through and are now in the appeals process,” said Starnes, who is pursuing her J.D./Executive Master of Business Administration through WVU Law’s joint degree program.
The prestigious internship aligns with Starnes’ personal interests and career goals.
“International human rights law is kind of my thing,” she said. “It’s what I really enjoy learning about, it’s what I really enjoy writing about, and it’s what I enjoy studying.”
Starnes hopes the ICTY experience will be a major step in achieving her ultimate goal of working for the United Nations.
“How many law students can say ‘I got to intern with the UN,’” Starnes said. “It’s important for me because it is going to open up doors that otherwise wouldn’t have been open.”
Still, her decision to apply for an overseas internship did not come without some careful consideration.
“I was hesitant to begin with because it’s during my last semester and I’ll be graduating in May,” said Starnes. “But, fortunately, the law school has been really willing to work with me to get everything in line.”
Starnes believes her previous travel experience—first to Chile, Germany, and the Dominican Republic and then to Brazil with WVU Law’s study abroad program win her the ICTY internship. Her undergraduate classes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her WVU Law classes also helped advance her career plans.
“I majored in Spanish and international relations and I focused on international law at WVU,” she said.
If her internship at the ICTY leads to a career in international law, Starnes said she plans to make it a priority to give back to the law school that helped make it possible.
“The fact that I can do this may enable some other law students to say ‘OK, if she can do it, maybe I can do it.’ I hope it will motivate other students,” she said.
Starnes said she feels fortunate to have the opportunity to work at the ICTY and she acknowledges the role that the faculty, administration, and fellow students at the WVU College of Law played in making it possible.
“All you need is a good place to go to school, great professors, and an opportunity,” she said. “This was that moment for me.”
To read more about Starnes’ experiences in the Netherlands this spring, visit her blog, Welcome to The Hague.
Kaylyn Christopher, WVU College of Law
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